Tatra SkyMarathon (© WMRA)
For the fourth round of the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) World Cup, action returns to the Tatra Mountains in Poland for Tatra SkyMarathon. This is the next long distance mountain race in the series, at 40km with 3300m of ascent.
This year’s World Cup kicked off in the Tatra Mountains at Tatra Race Run and it proved to be a spectacular venue for mountain running. The organisers describe the terrain as ‘steep but runnable, with a rocky and gravel surface’. The bulk of the climbing in the course comes from two long ascents with over 1000m of climbing on each.
The race starts at Koscielisko, just west of Zakopane. The route begins to climb almost immediately, before reaching the high point of Krzesanica at 2096m at the 11.8km point. This is one of the four Czerwone Wierchy peaks (Red Peaks) in the region. The route then descends back down to about 1100m at Hala Ornak, the 19km point. But there won’t be any respite for the runners as they will then need to climb 1000m again, all the way up to Starorobocianski Wierch, the highest point on the course, which they will hit at the 26.2km mark. Then it’s down, with one final, smaller sting in the tail, all the way back to Koscielisko.
A long part of the route follows the West Tatra Mountain Ridge which promises some incredible views.
There’s a strong field in both the women’s and men’s races. Some athletes who achieved success in Tatra Race Run are back for more, including Britain's Charlotte Morgan, the women’s winner, and Poland's Iwona Januszyk, who was third, plus Katarzyna Fraczysta and Joanna Piatek of Poland. Czech Republic's Marcela Vasinova, who was second at last weekend’s DoloMyths Run, will also be taking part.
For the men, Poland's Kamil Lesniak, who was eighth at Tatra Race Run, will be on the start line, as will Raul Criado Sanchez of Spain, who finished 15th. Marcin Swierc, the Polish champion who is known for podium finishes at the CCC and TDS, will definitely be one to watch.
Four of last year’s top five men will return to this race this year: Peter Frano was second, Bartosz Misiak was third, Lesniak fourth and Andrzej Witek fifth. Other strong Polish runners to watch include Maciek Dombrowski, Tomek Skupien and Dariusz Marek.
Kirsty Reade (WMRA) for World Athletics